Feeds

Botnet-harbouring survey fails to accounts for sinkholes

Let the right one in

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Updated Damballa has pulled its original blog post after admitting that the methodology of its botnet survey was incorrect. The security firm's analysis of active, malicious botnet command and control servers ignored the existence of deliberately established sinkholes, rendering its findings misleading.

In particular it misrepresented data about German hosting firm 1&1 initially concluding it was one of the hosting services most abused by cybercrooks. In reality, the hosting firm has worked closely with law enforcement and anti-abuse initiatives to run botnet sinkholes for the last two years. Some of these sinkholes are associated with the Torpig banking trojan. A 1&1 spokesman told H-Security that its network was clean of bonnet command and control servers, a far cry from the incorrect one in 10 of all botnet control claim originally cited by Damballa.

We repeated contacted Damballa for clarification about whether anything could be salvaged from its survey but the firm is yet to respond. We remain puzzled why Damballa failed to consider how the use of the well established security practice of sinkholling, which it uses itself, into account.

The US, Germany and France rank as the top three countries for hosting botnet command and control servers.

Countries such as China and Russia that (for better and mostly worse) tend to be most associated with hacking, spamming and cybercrime rank far below Western countries in a list compiled by net security firm Damballa.

For the first half of 2010, almost a quarter of botnet CnC servers were hosted by service providers in the US, with the top three countries (US - 23.9 per cent, Germany - 17.9 per cent and France - 8.6 per cent) hosting more than half of all CnC servers.

"Half of the servers used by cyber-criminals for the purpose of controlling their botnet empires are located in commercial hosting facilities within countries not traditionally associated with this kind of crime," writes Gunter Ollmann, VP Research at Damballa.

"The ability to host a server is typically independent of where the criminals are actually located and the type of victims they are trying to capture."

Internet hosting firms 1&1 Internet AG in Germany and AT&T have unwittingly become favourite control points for cybercrooks, according to Damballa. 1&1 Internet alone accounts for more than one in 10 botnet command and control servers.

"ISPs and hosting providers listed in the top 10 do not necessarily conduct criminal practices, but they have found themselves in a position of being 'preferred' by the criminals operating the botnets," said Ollman.

"This preference may be due to a very broad range of reasons. Regardless, the hosting providers within the top-10 may wish to investigate what makes them so attractive to criminals and should strive to become less so over time."

The publication of Damballa's research coincides with a major botnet operation in the Netherlands on Monday, involving the takedown of servers associated with the infamous Bredolab botnet. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Mozilla, EFF, Cisco back free-as-in-FREE-BEER SSL cert authority
Let’s Encrypt to give HTTPS-everywhere a boost in 2015
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
Got an iPhone or iPad? LOOK OUT for MASQUE-D INTRUDERS
UNjailbroken iOS 7, 8 open to evil, says secbiz FireEye
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.